It's fair to say that 2020 has changed the business technology landscape in a big way - namely as a result of the remote working boom.
Thanks to the pandemic, video conferencing has come to the fore as a fundamental business technology and companies have scrambled to migrate to cloud-based services in a bid to ensure employees can work from home effectively.
Businesses also had to ask themselves how best to equip remote employees - with desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones and more. And once employees were set up to work from home, the priority then switched to optimizing and securing remote connections.
With all this in mind, here's our rundown of the best business technology on the market in 2020.
- Working from home: the mouse, monitor, keyboard and router you need
Best business PC
Dell OptiPlex 3050 Micro
Dell is such a well-known and well respected name when it comes to business computers, so you can be sure when you buy a machine from Dell that it is both a well-built and well-supported device.
The Dell OptiPlex 3050 Micro offers very good base specs that can be customized to your needs, for a very compelling price. The slimline case also means you can keep your desk or office from feeling cluttered.
Best mobile workstation
Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)
As thin, light and sleek as ever, the MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) doesn’t actually feel like a 16-inch behemoth. This laptop feels just as compact as the 15-inch MacBook Pros that preceded it and perhaps more than any other 16-inch laptops out there.
If that isn’t enough, it also has incredible speakers for all your entertainment needs and a much improved keyboard so you can type all day without fatiguing.
Best business laptop
Dell XPS 15 (2020)
Combining staggering power with a stylish chassis, this laptop doesn’t hold back when it comes to internals and features that improve your computing experience overall.
It has a gorgeous display with 500 nits of brightness, an extremely comfortable keyboard, impressive speakers and a terrific trackpad. Our much coveted 5 out of 5 rating should speak for itself here.
Best business tablet
Microsoft Surface Pro 6
Microsoft’s Surface Pro lineup is often chosen at the top of our list for best business tablets - and the Surface Pro 6 is no different.
This device took what we've loved from previous versions and refined it. It's not a revolutionary new tablet, but rather an accomplished business device. It's also got that gorgeous design and build quality, some of the latest mobile tech inside and a new black color option.
While the Surface Pro 7 is now out, the improvement was not significant enough to topple the older model from the top spot.
Best business smartphone
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Samsung's Note line has always been designed for business users, with top specs and the S Pen stylus bringing plenty of features and tricks.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a top chipset, 108MP main camera, super high-res screen and more, so it's useful for you no matter what your profession.
The downside is that this phone is super expensive, enough to put some people off, but if your budget stretches, we'd recommend this be your first port of call.
Best business printer
Kyocera Ecosys P3155dn
The minimal design of this mono A4 business printer looks smart and feels well made, as you might expect, given the premium price tag.
It lacks a flashy touchscreen, or even inbuilt Wi-Fi, but it can turn out very high quality black and white prints quickly and economically. We calculated the per page cost to be as little as 0.4p per page.
And with a paper tray deep enough to hold a whole ream of paper and a maximum print speed of 55ppm, this high-capacity printer is ideal for servicing a small office with high print demands.
Best business display
Dell UltraSharp UP3218K
The Dell UltraSharp UP3218K is the best business monitor we've ever tried.
The huge 32-inch screen and 8K resolution makes it perfect for photographers and video editors, and the amount of screen real estate makes it an excellent productivity tool. The screen is also professionally calibrated so it looks amazing out of the box. However, be warned - this is an extremely expensive monitor.
Best business router
Asus has a reputation for manufacturing great consumer products and the Taiwanese firm – known for its laptops and motherboards – has been trying its hand at wireless products. The BRT-AC828 is its only business router and the device ticks a lot of boxes, even for small businesses looking for more than 10 simultaneous connections.
Granted, it is excruciatingly expensive, but it packs the sort of features you’d never expect from a router, like an M.2 slot to plug in an SSD. It also offers support for RADIUS, the ability to aggregate four 1Gb Ethernet ports into a virtual 4Gb one (it has a mighty eight Gigabit Ethernet ports in all) and LTE as a backup connection to improve resilience.
As you’d expect from a top of the range router, it offers 4x4 MU-MIMO and theoretical speeds of up to 2.6Gbps with open plan coverage up to 100m (albeit on the 2.4GHz band).
Best business storage drive
WD My Cloud Personal NAS drive
WD has attained quite significant success with its unashamedly consumer-friendly My Cloud products, which can stream to any DLNA-compliant device and be accessed via mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Advertised as a 'personal cloud,' this WD is one of the best NAS drives around, starting at 2TB of storage (you can also get it in 3 or 4TB). Because it's a one-bay unit, it can't back itself up, but it can back up to an external hard drive thanks to a USB port on the back.
Best communications solution
RingCentral may not have been the first service to offer CPaaS, but the RingCentral developer platform has become one of the leading services when it comes to cloud communications.
Unlike some established providers who built their systems for on-premise hardware, RingCentral has built their services from the ground-up in the cloud.
The RingCentral Connect Platform contains an existing library of APIs for customizing and configuring all aspects of communications, not least for integrating existing RingCentral Office features into other applications.
While the platform doesn’t aim for simplicity the way some other CPaaS providers do, what it does focus on is functionality, making this a powerful suite of services to use with its main RingCentral Office service.
Best business security solution
Avast Business Antivirus Pro
Avast Business Antivirus Pro Plus is an excellent business endpoint security software suite, giving you various tools such as antivirus, firewall, email protection, anti-spam and the ability to sandbox applications for complete security.
Avast Business Antivirus Pro (as opposed to the standard Avast Business Antivirus) also includes Sharepoint and Exchange protection, as well as a number of tools for your servers.
The free version of this security package has long been considered one of the best, but if value for money and simplicity are key factors, Avast Business Antivirus Pro could be a sensible choice.
Best business VPN
Perimeter 81 offers a great business VPN experience for users who work across multiple devices and switch from one to another frequently. It’s a powerful service with many features and benefits.
The firm's zero-trust network service will always ensure secure, zero-trust access to web applications. This will increase efficiency and security, help with mitigating data loss, as well as reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) for IT security by replacing disconnected point products with a single, consolidated security platform.
The software-defined perimeter (SDP) is used to restrict network access and provide customized, manageable and secure access to networked systems. Perimeter 81 uses its own SDP solution to offer simple cloud migration security, and secure access to cloud environments such as IaaS, PaaS, and more. It also has integration with Microsoft’s Azure SIEM and Amazon S3.
The provider also uses some advanced security features that proactively protect employees from dangerous public Wi-Fi threats, regardless of where they are working from.
Best cloud storage
iDrive offers continuous syncing of your files, even those stored on network drives. The web interface supports sharing files by email, Facebook and Twitter. Cautious or click-happy users will be pleased to hear that files deleted from your computer are not automatically deleted from the server, so there's less danger of removing something important by accident.
Up to 30 previous versions of all files backed to your account are retained. Another thing to note is that IT admins have access to the iDrive Thin Client application, which allows them to backup/restore, manage settings, and more for all their connected computers via a centralized dashboard.
An enhanced version - aptly named iDrive Business - offers priority support, single sign-on as well as unlimited users and server backup. While iDrive Personal offers 5TB or 10TB per user, the professional option delivers between 250GB and 12.5TB of cloud storage.
Best business web hosting
Taking top honors in our web hosting provider charts, Bluehost offers basic shared hosting from $2.95 monthly (on a three-year contract), with WordPress plans starting at $20 per month (although that’s also a discounted introductory rate).
For the money, you get automated setup for WordPress, not to mention other popular apps via a Mojo Marketplace-powered system. There’s also a cPanel-based area to allow expert users to make tweaks.
Bluehost also provides a Weebly-based website builder, which is a great bonus. It's a basic browser-based affair that lets you create a website of up to six pages. There are no extras like site templates included, but still, it’s better than nothing.
Best website builder
Popular web hosting choice Hostgator also offers the best website builder. The Starter plan starts at $3.84 (£3.25) per month for a two-year plan (with code "TECHRADAR", you'll pay $3.46 per month).
This will get you unmetered storage and bandwidth, unlimited pages, one-year free domain and hosting, free SSL certificate, $200 ad vouchers and a few other extras. The top tier plan will also grant you eCommerce functionality.
You’ll have the simple and powerful drag-and-drop builder at your disposal so you can quickly and easily build your website. Hostgator also gives you analytical tools so you can always check how well your website is performing, and you’ll have access to live feeds from Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Best email marketing solution
There are also additional features available, such as email automation and scheduling, surveys, polls, and dynamic signup forms.
Aside from customizable templates and image hosting, analytics makes it easier to measure the effective ROI from campaigns and improve conversion rates with different approaches.
Best collaboration tool
Microsoft Office may not be the first platform you think of when it comes to collaboration, but this now runs at the heart of the Office 365 cloud-based office suite.
This is important because Microsoft Office remains the most used and therefore important office suite out there, and while there are competitors such as OpenOffice and G Suite they still haven't caught up to the same level of functionality and ease of use.
Therefore as Microsoft Office is likely to be at the heart of many businesses, the move to Office 365 offers a number of advantages, not least the ability for teams to collaborate directly on the same set of documents. This could be anything from work shifts in an Excel spreadsheet, to a presentation in Powerpoint, to client reports written in Word.
Best project management software
Asana is a project management solution you may well have heard of – even if you haven’t used the service in the past. In short, it offers a ton of handy features to boost productivity.
The app lets you create to-do lists and reminders so you always meet deadlines, plus you can add due dates, instructions and comments to items. You can even share images from other apps (like Google Drive) directly to Asana.
And most importantly, you can actually track everything you and your colleagues work on in a bid to ensure the project is running smoothly and to schedule.
Freshsales CRM is a user-friendly platform that focuses on maximizing the productivity of your sales team. It includes a number of tools and features, such as a softphone with email integration, lead scoring and workflow automation. There are also a number of integrations for marketing and communications you can add with it.
Even the most basic plan, includes lead, contact, deal, and account management, as well as a visual sales pipeline, automated lead scoring, SMS integration, and API access.
More advanced plans offer multiple sales pipelines, bulk emails, multiple sequences, automated workflow processes, teams, lead assignments, smart matches, custom roles, and advanced reports.
Best HR product
BamboHR is a web-based system for managing your human resources operations. Used by tens of thousands of HR professionals around the world, including SoundCloud and ZipRecruiter, it aims to automate mundane processes so you can focus your time on more important work.
This cloud-based solution offers applicant and training tracking, e-signatures to replace paper-based systems, time-off management, performance tools and easy reporting. There’s also a mobile app, meaning you can keep on top of everything while you’re away from the office.
Bamboo can also process automated requests and approvals, and you’re sent reminders when things need to be brought to your attention. All data is protected with bank-level security, so you don’t need to worry about employee data being leaked.
Best accounting solution
FreshBooks is a popular cloud-based accounting service designed specifically for small business owners.
The package has plenty of features – invoicing, expense tracking, time tracking, a host of business reports, even an option to take credit card payments (for a 2.9% plus 30 cents transaction fee) – but a straightforward interface aimed at non-accountants ensures you'll be up-and-running right away.
Despite the simplicity, there's real depth here. You can bill in any currency, save time by setting up recurring invoices, allow customers to pay via credit card by checking a box, and even automatically bill their credit card to keep life simple for everyone.
If you need more power, the system integrates with many other services, including PayPal, MailChimp, Basecamp, WordPress, Gusto, Zendesk and more.
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